The summer of 1937 witnessed a variety of shooting competitions throughout the Greater German Reich as Political Leaders of the NSDAP and its affiliated organizations like the SA and SS prepared for the national sport and shooting competitions which were to be held during the Reichparteitag in Nürnburg from September 8th through the 13th. In preparation for these contests, SA Brigades across the country authorized matches at Sturm (company) level to select final participants in the SA National Pistol Shooting Competition to be held at the end of July in the city of Zella-Mehlis. Through the lobbying of the many firearms manufacturers in the city as well as local politicians, the SA was convinced to hold their 1937 annual shooting competition in the city. The victorious SA members of this competition would attend the National Party Games in Nürnburg and compete in those shooting matches. The results of this SA Championship were reported in the August 2, 1937 issue of the Zella-Mehlis town newspaper.
The SA National Shooting Contest began Friday July 30 and ended on August 1, pitting the best marksmen of each SA Gruppe in pistol shooting competition in classes for Speed, Precision and Proficiency. From a distance of twenty-five meters, the competitors fired three series of five shoots in each class with their standard service pistol of 7,65m caliber. Targets were Olympic target competition full figures marked for scoring with rings valued at one to ten points. The highest possible score was 450 Ringe (points).
After the competition ended, an award ceremony was held that Sunday evening sponsored by the local NSDAP Ortsgruppe (local group) hosted by Ortsgruppenleiter Beyer. In his speech welcoming SA Obergruppenführer Kühme, Department Chief of Competitive Sports & Events in the SA High Command, and the SA shooting contingents to the first SA National Shooting Contest, Beyer noted that although this was the first time an SA shooting contest had been held in Zella-Mehlis, it was his hope that Zella-Mehlis would become the home of the annual event. SA Brigadeführer Michaelis of the Obersten SA-Führung closed the ceremonies with thanks to the Ortsgruppenleiter Beyer, the Lord Mayor of the city and the citizens of Zella-Mehlis for the excellent event. He thanked the various organizations and companies in Gau Thüringen which had supplied prizes for the competition. He then proceeded with the presentation of awards to the finest marksmen of the SA and expressed his wish that next year’s contest would be in Zella-Mehlis. It was to be, for the SA committed to making the city the home of the annual SA-Shooting Competitions.
The newspaper article listed all the winning contestants and awards from various companies in the area. Among those listed were the City of Suhl and its firms Haenel which provided one of their Championship Rifles, BSW which provided a hunting rifle and Sauer & Söhn which supplied three prizes itself. From the city of Zella-Mehlis, prizes were supplied by the city, local organization and firms such as Fr. Langenhan, J.G. Anschutz and of course Fa. (Firma) Carl Walther, Waffenfabrik, Zella-Mehlis, which on its own provided a total of five prizes for the SA National Shooting Contest. Walther supplied prizes for 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th and 14th place. This particular Walther PP #964 484 in .22 caliber is engraved on the slide as a presentation from the Walther company: Ehrenpreis der Fa. Carl Walther. Waffenfabrik, Zella-Mehlis/ Zum Reichspistolenschießen der SA 1937.
A report on the SA National Shooting Competition in the annual Yearbook of the SA listed the first five awards. The Third Place winner, Scharführer Maurer, received a Walther Olympia Pistol. It really cannot be known which of the remaining four listed marksman received the engraved presentation PP shown here.We do know that another Walther PP in .22 caliber with an identical inscription was recorded by noted Walther firearms expert Dieter Marshall: # 964 424. One of the remaining men listed was the proud owner of the Walther PP # 964 484.
3. Scharführer Maurer, Gruppe Südwest. 316 Ringe- Olympiapistole
7.Obersturmführer Zeitrüg, Gruppe Bayerische-Ostmark, 290 Ringe
8. Standartenführer Berdt, Oberste SA-Führung, 280 Ringe
10. Obersturmführer Michaelson, Gruppe Nordmark, 280 Ringe
14. Oberscharführer Weitz, Gruppe Hessen, 272 Ringe
The SA continued to conduct their annual national shooting matches in Zella-Mehlis in the following two years until interupted by the beginning of WWII. The following year match was featured in this postcard celebrating the event. The 1938 Reichsschießmeisterschaften der SA took place from Friday through Sunday, July 22nd to the 24th. It is interesting that the Reichswettkämpfe der SA (the National Athletic Championships) was held in Berlin July 15th thru the 17th, the week before the events in Zella-Mehlis. All shooting contest were removed from the Berlin events and moved to the Zella-Mehlis contests.
An example of another Walther shooting prize that was presented in the 1938 matches exists in a collection. But in this case, the awarded pistol was a 7,65mm PP that was inscribed as a prize to the best shooting team in the officer competition in the matches.
The final SA shooting match was held in 1939. Little is known at this time about the contest or winners. We do know the event occured as it was publicized by means of this 1939 dated event pin made of zinc alloy that I acquired some years ago. Unfortunately the finish suffers from "zinc pest" which is irreversible.